--Uh, best cover art ... ever? Wow. Maybe with DVD sales leveling off, this is the industry's new marketing tactic: fiendishly original design that describes the entire movie for you. Let's see what we can deduce about Zapped! from this cover art: two high school boys (and possibly one from junior high?) discover a magic rock that gives them telekinetic powers and possibly enormous proportions, they somehow use this power to acquire money (does that tie in with the camera?) and they meet a dog who's into Star Trek. I think that's it. I'm just slightly blown away that such a throw-away catalog title, on DVD for the first time Feb. 12, would get a first-class cover art treatment when so many other titles give us PhotoShopped heads or random images plucked from rejected heavy metal album cover designs.
--An interesting release next week that's flown under the radar a bit is the collector's edition of El Cid, Samuel Bronston's collossal 1961 widescreen road show. Telling a grand tale of Spanish history, Bronston rounded up Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, a handful of directors and a cast of thousands of extras to fill the 70mm lens. As usual, DVD Savant has the full scoop:
El Cid isn't as 'big' as the films that followed it, but the quality of its physical production far outdistances spectacles filmed in Culver City or North Hollywood. Even the costumes for the extras are authentic, and everything made of fine leather, carved wood or Toledo steel is the genuine article. In Europe Bronston found old world designers and craftspeople that made MGM's plaster and canvas approach look like the work of amateurs.
The 70mm production sounds perfect for DVD, and of course there's tons of extras on it. Interestingly, this Weinstein Brothers release is branded under "The Miriam Collection," named for their mother. I don't know if Ma Weinstein was a noted DVD producer, but it seems a little odd.
-- Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie have long had to make do with either their VHS copy or simply watching This Island Earth and adding their own snarky comments. Released early in the DVD age, MST3K:TM has been out of print for nearly a decade, with copies regularly selling for upwards of $200 on eBay. Well, it's finally getting a re-release on May 8. You can argue that there are better episodes of MST3K, but it's an interesting watch because This Island Earth is a fairly prominent and respected scifi tale. Also, Shout! Factory is taking over the MST3K DVD business, meaning the show's upcoming releases should only be better. Shout! Factory is perhaps the best in the business at producing television DVDs, so it should be interesting to see what they do with the property.
--Filed under the "tax return temptation" category is the Twilight Zone: The Complete Series collection, whose price keeps diving. Compared to the individual season sets, for $169 this is a steal. You get all five seasons, with every episode remastered, and lots of extras. Unfortunately, the excellent Twilight Zone Companion book, which was packed in with the early runs of the season sets, is not included.
--Shaping up to be one of Criterion's best releases of the year is Feb. 26's The Last Emperor, which will arrive on four overflowing discs. You get two versions of Bernardo Bertolucci's classic (both remastered) and leagues of extras, including multiple documentaries and commentaries. This will be the first proper DVD presentation of the movie.
--Speaking of Criterion, check out this inside-look at the process of designig one of their high quality covers. It's a good look at all the pains Criterion takes to put out the best discs.